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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

226                                 LIFE  OF
a group of crocodiles. The animals slept in the sun,
and were so lying that their broad scaly tails rested
against each other. Little snow-white herons perched
on their heads and backs, as if they had been trunks
of trees, I had been looking only towards the shore,
when, on lifting up some scales of mica., abounding
in the sand here, I perceived the fresh footprints of a
tiger, and, at eighty paces distant, saw an immensely
large jaguar lying beneath the foliage of a ceiba tree*
There are circumstances in life when it is impossible
to reason. I was much alarmed, but had self-posses-
sion enough to proceed onwards without running, and
to avoid any movement of the arms. I perceived
that the jaguar was fixing its attention exclusively on
a swimming herd of capybaras, I therefore commenced
my retreat in a long round towards the shore., gra-
dually hastening my steps. How often was I tempted
to look back to see if I was pursued ! Fortunately 1
did not do so till late, and then saw that the animal
had remained immovable. The .wild beasts here are
so well fed that they rarely attack men. I arrived
breathless at the vessel, but the Indians to whom I
told my adventure treated it with great indifference.
However, when they had loaded their gunss they
accompanied me and . Bonpland to the spot where I
had seen the tiger. "We did not find him there, and
did not deem it advisable to pursue him into the
wood/"                         
The next night, Humboldt and his companions
again spent on the shore, opposite the island Conserva.
The lighted fires again attracted the crocodiles, and a
female jaguar approached the river to water its young.
The 4th April was the last day spent on the Apiire..
The insects began to torment dreadfully, especially
the mncudos, whose proboscis is so long that it pene-
trates through hammock and garments. The next
day Humboldt's vessel, after safely avoiding the shal-
lows caused by the long drought, gaily entered the
long desired Orinocco.